The worldwide death toll from the coronavirus hit 100,000 on Friday afternoon, according to the running tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.
The sad milestone comes as Christians around the globe mark a Good Friday unlike any other — in front of computer screens instead of in church pews. Meanwhile, some countries are tiptoeing toward reopening segments of their battered economies.
After facing calls for more data about what was driving decisions, Canadian federal health officials on Thursday presented modelling information on how the outbreak could unfold.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said that the models aren’t crystal balls — but they “help us to plan and they tell us that our collective actions can have a direct and significant impact on the epidemic trajectory.”
The models suggest that even with stringent public health measures, Canada could see 4,400 deaths linked to the growing epidemic. That figure — the most optimistic in the models presented — is just one of the projections offered by officials, who stressed that how people behave now will be critical to how the epidemic evolves.
Health officials projected that 11,000 Canadians would die over the course of the pandemic if 2.5 per cent of the population was infected, a number that increased to 22,000 if the infection rate hit five per cent of the population. All the projections are “highly sensitive” to behaviours, Tam said as health officials outlined models with strict measures as well as offering a glimpse into what might have happened without controls.
Public health officials have urged people to stay home, avoid large gatherings and keep up physical distancing, handwashing and other measures.
“We’re going to have a virtual Easter,” said Dr. Howard Njoo explaining how his family will practice physical distancing this weekend. “Of course it’s hard. We’re used to having a family gathering…But we know these are extraordinary times.” <a href=”https://t.co/L5weMiZEFI”>pic.twitter.com/L5weMiZEFI</a>
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday said that people generally come together at this time of year, “but this weekend is going to be very different.”
Families and religious communities will need to find ways to connect despite physical separation. Even Easter egg hunts will be different, Trudeau said, as families stay home.
The daily briefing outside Rideau Cottage looked again at financial assistance to businesses and the supply of personal protective equipment, but the prime minister also took questions about testing, saying that expanded testing will be a “key part” of the path forward.
Trudeau also addressed the issue of health-care workers contracting the virus, saying health workers need to know “that we have their back” and have the support they need. Health workers have expressed concern about shortages of the protective gear they need .
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His remarks came a day after he cautioned that public health measures won’t be lifted any time soon, a subject he returned to Friday. He said the government is talking with provinces, experts and industry about how and when restrictions might be lifted — but noted that Canada is still in the “first phase” of the spread of the virus.
He said it’s possible Canada would be out of the first wave this summer, and at that point a loosening of some rules could occur.
“We’ll have to be very careful about how we do that,” he said, noting that the country would still need to be vigilant about a resurgence of the virus.
Elsewhere, as weeks of lockdowns were extended in nation after nation, world governments were pressed to ease restrictions on key businesses and industries.
After a two-week freeze on all non-essential economic activity, Spain decided to allow factories and construction sites to resume work on Monday, while schools, most shops and offices will remain closed. In Italy, the industrial lobbies in regions representing 45 per cent of its economic output urged the government to ease its two-week lockdown on all non-essential manufacturing, saying the country “risks definitively shutting down its own motor, and every day that passes the risk grows not to be able to restart it.”
The head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, warned that a premature lifting of restrictions could “lead to a deadly resurgence.”
The novel coronavirus, known as SARS-CoV2, was first reported in China in late 2019. There is no known cure or vaccine for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus. While most people who contract the illness will experience mild to moderate symptoms, health officials have cautioned that certain segments of the population, including the elderly and people with pre-existing health issues, face a higher risk of severe disease and death.
The Public Health Agency of Canada, which has been posting updated information about the virus, says that COVID-19 is a “serious health threat.” The agency says that risk varies between communities but notes that the overall risk to Canadians is ” considered high.”
Read on for a look at what’s happening in Canada and around the world.
Here’s what’s happening in the provinces and territories
As of 1:40 p.m. ET on Friday, Canada had 22,046 confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19. The provinces and territories that provide data on recovered cases listed 5,847 as resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths, which is based on public health information and reporting, lists 579 COVID-19-related deaths in Canada, as well as two coronavirus-linked deaths of Canadians abroad.
British Columbia’s top doctor says she doesn’t plan to build out projections around possible COVID-19 death tolls. “Our modelling is about what we need to prepare for,” Dr. Bonnie Henry said. “As you can see, deaths are not something that can be predicted. It depends on how your outbreak evolves.” Read more about what’s happening in B.C.
“You’re saving lives.” That is the message from Alberta’s top doctor to people sticking to public health measures like physical distancing. Dr. Deena Hinshaw said this long weekend and the weeks ahead “will be a difficult test for all of us who normally come together to celebrate the holidays.” Read more about what’s happening in Alberta.
Saskatchewan announced $50 million in funding to help small and medium businesses impacted by the fallout from the COVID-19 outbreak. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan, including what the premier has said about whether the Emergencies Act should be used.
In Manitoba, three people linked to the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg have tested positive for COVID-19. They are all in self-isolation and Manitoba Health is doing contact tracing, an email obtained by CBC News says. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba.
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More than 620 health-care workers in Ontario have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, data shows. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario, including what Premier Doug Ford had to say about the need to improve COVID-19 testing in the province, which has faced questions over relatively low testing volumes.
In Quebec, public health officials say there are almost 11,000 coronavirus cases. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec, including details about extra staff being sent to hard-hit nursing homes.
New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs said Thursday that there’s hope the province could return to “normal in some form this summer.” Higgs said that reopening businesses will depend on how the situation evolves in the coming weeks and months and noted that the economy won’t reopen fully until a vaccine is developed. Read more about what’s happening in N.B.
If first wave of COVID-19 doesn’t end until summer, do current measures remain in place until then?<br> <br>“Measures that we have in place have to remain stringent until such time that we see a significant reduction in cases,” said Health Minister <a href=”https://twitter.com/PattyHajdu?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@PattyHajdu</a> <a href=”https://t.co/l3GLTf1Gkz”>pic.twitter.com/l3GLTf1Gkz</a>
Nova Scotia doesn’t plan to lift restrictions in place because of COVID-19 until at least June. Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s top health officer, said the summer “is going to look somewhat different than most summers.” Read more about what’s happening in N.S.
Newfoundland and Labrador’s health minister is warning people that the province’s peak is expected later than other provinces — and says that restrictions could be in place for months to come. Read more about what’s happening in N.L.
The Yukon government is offering financial assistance for eligible businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19 and the measures to fight it. Read more about what’s happening across Canada’s North.
Here’s a look at what’s happening in the United States
From The Associated Press and Reuters, updated at 2:45 p.m. ET
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Twitter Friday a funding measure to help small businesses should be approved by Congress with no additions, as a partisan skirmish in the U.S. Senate cut short a Republican effort to speed up the $250 billion in new assistance.
“Democrats are blocking a [$251 billion] funding boost for Small Businesses which will help them keep their employees. It should be for only that reason, with no additions. We should have a big Infrastructure Phase Four with Payroll Tax Cuts & more. Big Economic Bounceback!” Trump said in a Twitter post.
The U.S. reported more massive job loss on Thursday, as government figures showed 6.6 million workers applied for unemployment benefits last week, on top of more than 10 million in the two weeks before that.
At a Friday afternoon press briefing, Trump — who is now weighing when to restart the country’s economy — pointed to models that are now forecasting U.S. death rates far lower than the 100,000 originally estimated.
“We’re saving so many lives compared to what it could have been,” he said.
But experts warn that reopening the country too soon could cause a devastating new spike in infections.
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In New York City, officials have shortened the amount of time unclaimed remains will be held before they are buried in the city’s public cemetery, as the city struggles to deal with a mounting death toll and dwindling morgue space.
Under the new policy, the medical examiner’s office will keep bodies in storage for just 14 days before they’re buried in the city’s potter’s field on Hart Island.
As of Friday morning, there have been more than 87,000 confirmed cases in New York City, with 5,150 deaths in the city.
The country at large has reported over 475,000 cases with nearly 18,000 deaths. But the briefing, Trump said he believes the United States will lose fewer than the initially projected 100,000 lives to COVID-19, and the country is nearing its peak infection rate.
Here’s a look at what’s happening around the world
From The Associated Press and Reuters, updated at 12:40 p.m. ET
The head of the World Health Organization warns that a premature lifting of stay-at-home orders and other restrictions by countries to fight the coronavirus outbreak could spark a “deadly resurgence.”
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus acknowledged that some countries are already planning to transition out of stay-at-home restrictions, and insisted that the UN health agency “wants to see restrictions lifted as much as anyone.”
“At the same time, lifting restrictions too quickly could lead to a deadly resurgence,” Tedros told reporters from WHO headquarters in Geneva. “The way down can be as dangerous as the way up, if not managed properly.”
Italian authorities are using helicopters, drones and stepped-up police checks to make sure Italians don’t slip out of their homes for the Easter holiday weekend. The virus has killed more than 18,000 people in Italy and over 95,000 worldwide, according to data gathered by Johns Hopkins University.
The coronavirus has claimed at least 15,843 lives in Spain and has officially infected 152,446 people, although both the rate of contagion and mortality are dropping, official health ministry data showed Friday. The 605 new deaths recorded overnight were the lowest increase since March 24.
The British government says the U.K. has recorded 980 new deaths of people with the coronavirus, an increase from 881 deaths reported in the previous 24 hours and the highest daily total to date. Health Secretary Matt Hancock says that as of Friday, 8,958 patients have died in hospital after testing positive for the coronavirus in the U.K.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, meanwhile, is in “very good spirits” after returning to a hospital ward from intensive care, but his recovery is at an early stage, his spokesperson said on Friday.
There were encouraging signs in France, where the national health agency saw indications the crisis is stabilizing, though more than 12,000 lives have been lost. The country’s only aircraft carrier has confirmed 50 cases of the virus aboard and is heading back to port.
Pope Francis will celebrate Easter Mass in a nearly empty St. Peter’s Basilica instead of the huge square outside. In England, the Archbishop of Canterbury will deliver his Easter sermon by video.
There are more than 134,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the Middle East, including over 5,300 fatalities. Some 4,200 of those deaths are in Iran, which has the largest outbreak in the region. Authorities there had recorded over 68,000 total cases as of Friday.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei suggested mass gatherings may be barred through the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which runs from late April through most of May.
Yemen reported its first case on Friday, as aid groups try to prepare for an outbreak where war has shattered the health system and spread hunger and disease.
China’s Wuhan city, where the pandemic began, is still testing residents regularly despite relaxing its tough two-month lockdown, with the country wary of a rebound as it sets its sights on normalizing the economy.
The total number of novel coronavirus infections in Japan hit 6,003 on Friday, public broadcaster NHK reported.
Early voting in South Korea’s parliamentary election began on Friday with coronavirus patients casting ballots at disinfected polling stations.
All Botswana’s parliamentarians, including the president, will be quarantined for two weeks and tested, after a health worker screening lawmakers for the virus tested positive.
In the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, people desperate for food stampeded, pushing through a gate at a district office in the Kibera slum. Police fired tear gas, injuring several people.
The epidemic has so far infected over 440 people in Burkina Faso, including six government ministers, and killed 24.
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Chile will start handing out certificates to people who have recovered that will exempt them from adhering to quarantines or other restrictions.
Mexico has recorded its first two deaths of pregnant women from the coronavirus as the reported death toll reached 194, the health ministry said.